Ducks Unlimited Canada biologist says more good hunting to come

Louisiana hunters have been delighted this season to see the skies over the Bayou State peppered by clouds of dabbling and diving ducks, but the strong season hasn’t been a surprise to Pat Kehoe.

The avid waterfowler serves as a biologist for Ducks Unlimited Canada, and long before the ducks even got distant looks in their eyes dreaming about the Louisiana marsh, Kehoe knew local hunters would be in for a treat.

“In 25 years of (waterfowl management), this year was the best I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

Nature set things in motion during the fall of 2009, when record rainfalls saturated the potholes of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. That water quickly froze, and served to give the potholes a head start this spring, which actually was a bit drier than normal until late in the season.

“We started getting rain in May, and it didn’t quit,” Kehoe said.

All that water helped the ducks to have a strong hatch, and Kehoe saw evidence of it during his September-October hunts.

“Where we hunt, there were over 100,000 mallards, and we killed 900 snow geese in two weeks,” he said.

There were so many ducks that fellow Ducks Unlimited Canada employee Duncan Morrison got starry-eyed during one particular hunt.

“I looked around, and I thought, ‘This is like being in a planetarium, and all those ducks are stars,’” he said. “There were just that many ducks.”

The really great news for Louisiana hunters is that the birds are no longer enjoying the bounty of the prairie pothole region. In fact, the only ducks left in the area are those in Kehoe’s and fellow hunters’ freezers.

“When I left to come (to New Orleans), it was 40 below (zero) in my driveway,” he said. “The birds are all out of Canada.”

And that means many of those that aren’t in the Bayou State now are heading this way.

Those that survive the season will find amazing conditions again when they return to the prairie pothole region in the spring.

“We were wet, wet, wet in the fall,” Kehoe said. “The farmers had trouble harvesting.

“All that water isn’t going anywhere. They’re skating on it now.”

About Todd Masson 745 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.